Mount Baldy via Bear Canyon (Old Baldy) Trail
Mount Baldy via Bear Canyon Trail (aka Old Baldy Trail) Quick Facts
Self-serve permit required
No Adventure Pass required for parking
Snow and ice and fatal exposure in winter
Allow 8+ hours
5,750′ of elevation gain
13 miles out and back
Trail tops out at 10,069′
Also called the Bear Canyon Trail, this trail was created in 1889. Eventually, a road was built to what is now Manker Flats and the “Old Baldy Trail” lost popularity – probably because it’s a lot harder. The trail starts out following a creek for about a mile and then climbs away from the creek up a series of switchbacks. These switchbacks seem to go on forever.
You continue up the switchbacks you come to a very high ridge. As you approach the high ridge, you keep thinking you’re almost there, but it just keeps going up. You eventually find the top of the ridge and continue a steep ascent. As you approach the last few miles of trail these are the easiest. You will come across a ridge that has a similar feel to the Devil’s Backbone Trail on the other side of the mountain. There is a short section of trail that, in icy conditions has fatal exposure on both sides. Pucker up and be careful.
Looking ahead, you will see that the trail follows a “C” curve to your right and gradually ascents the side of West Baldy to the main summit. It’s easy to lose direction during this section of the hike, especially if there is a lot of snow. Turn around periodically and mentally map your decent as you move toward the summit.
Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, does the best walkthrough of this trail I’ve seen. Check it out before you go.
Directions to Mount Baldy Village Church
Take the main highway to Mount Baldy Village. Park along the street or in front of the Mount Baldy Visitor Center. Next to the Visitor Center sign, there is a self-serve permit station. Fill out a permit and keep the pink copy with you. Walk through the church parking lot next store and continue past the sign that says “STOP, NO VEHICLE TRAFFIC BEYOND THIS POINT…” Walk up a steep paved road for about .25 miles. You will see the sign for the beginning of the trail.